A U.S. Air Force Airman stationed at Eglin Air Force Base was honored with one of the military’s highest honors this month after rescuing three people caught in the dangerous surf off the coast of Destin, Fla. in 2017.
First Lieutenant Dominic Vicino distinguished himself by risking his life to save three people on March 31, 2017, the Air Force said during the award ceremony January 10.
On that date, swimming was prohibited because of dangerous wildlife and life-threatening riptide conditions along the Gulf Coast. Vicino saw two people waving their arms approximately 100-yards offshore.
“I realized they were in distress, so I dropped my belongings and bolted for the water in a dead sprint,” said the weapons and tactics officer.
Vicino fought through dangerous waves and riptides to reach the victims and carry them back to shore. Then he re-entered the water and rescued a distressed lifeguard.
‘I’m just glad I happened to be in the right place at the right time, said the 24-year-old.
Vicino credits his strong swimming skills to playing water polo for 15 years and to the Air Force Academy’s water survival training.
“I am very confident in my swimming ability, so I knew I could get out to them,” said the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native.
The Airman’s Medal is the Air Forces highest noncombat award for Airmen who distinguish themselves by a heroic act. The Airman’s Medal is the same award given to Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, one of three Americans who stopped a terrorist attack aboard a French train in August of 2015.